Scoop Report: Australia's Deputy PM Resigns - Mark Vaile To Get DPM Position
By Selwyn Manning - Scoop Co-Editor (biography information courtesy of Australian Federal Govt).
Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson resigned Thursday afternoon citing ill-health had caused him to lose his passion for politics. It is understood Anderson is suffering from a prostate problem. Anderson's resignation has caused a reshuffle of John Howard's conservative government's cabinet.
John Anderson said today: "AFTER carefully weighing the interests of my party, my family, and my health, I have decided that the time has arrived for me to step down as Leader of the Nationals, and return to the backbench after the winter break.
"I have advised the prime minister and my party that my resignation will take effect from mid-July, and I expect the Nationals party room will hold a leadership ballot before the House rises.
"These decisions are not made easily or quickly, as I have discovered. In my case, a combination of circumstances have come together to convince me that this is the right time to step down.
"First, while I have not previously referred to it publicly, I have for some years suffered from a medical condition - a debilitating but thankfully benign prostate condition. It is not life threatening, but the clear medical advice given me is that it will not improve so long as I lead the lifestyle that comes with being not only local member, but minister of a demanding and complicated portfolio, party leader, and deputy prime minister as well. I simply do not want it to become any more troublesome, for my own sake, let alone for my family's.
"Secondly, I am at a point where the core objectives I wanted to achieve as minister and deputy prime minister - in land transport and air safety, for regional Australia, and water reform – are largely in place.
"And third, my party is at a point where it will enter a new era with the coalition's impending majority in the Senate. I believe the party needs a leader who is certain to have the energy to meet the challenges this will bring, and to take the party forward to the next election. So this is the right time for me to make a change," John Anderson said.
John Anderson was born November 14 1956 and is married to Julia, has four children, Jessica, Nicholas, Georgina and Laura.
Anderson was elected as Member for Gwydir at by-election 15/4/89 to replace the Hon RJD Hunt. Following the 1993 general election, Mr Anderson was elected Deputy Leader of the National Party and appointed Shadow Minister for Primary Industries. Mr Anderson was sworn in as the Minister for Primary Industries & Energy on 11 March 1996, following the Coalition election victory. Following the Coalition's election victory in October 1998, Mr Anderson was sworn in as Minister for Transport & Regional Services on 21 October 1998. Mr Anderson was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport & Regional Services on 20 July 1999, after the resignation of The Hon Tim Fischer.
Australian Prime Minsiter John Howard said: "I've said on a number of occasions that I haven't met a person with greater integrity in public life, and I'm very proud to repeat that comment today. John is a person of steadfast character and principle. "He feels deeply about issues that he regards important in the life of this country, he cares about country people, but he also understands that we are above all together as Australians where ever we live," John Howard said.
Trade Minister Mark Vaile has taken over as National Party leader and will step into the vacated Australia deputy prime minister role. Vaile negotiated Australia's free trade agreement with the USA.
Mark Vaile was appointed Minister for Trade of Australia in July 1999 and has now held the position for more than five years. He is the Deputy Leader of the Nationals and holds the federal seat of Lyne in the state of New South Wales. He has been a member of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament since 1993 and a member of the Australian Government Cabinet since October 1997.
Mr Vaile served as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Transport and Regional Development prior to taking up his current position. He also served as the chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport, Communications & Micro-Economic Reform from 1996-97.
Mr Vaile represents Australia at the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) and has represented Australia at the Boao Forum for Asia in 2002 and 2004.
In September 2002, he signed the ASEAN Free Trade Area – Closer Economics Relations Closer Economic Partnership with the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations and New Zealand. This has been used as the foundation for the current FTA negotiations.
In the multilateral context, Mr Vaile represented Australia in the Seattle, Doha and Cancun WTO ministerial conferences and chaired an informal meeting of a group of WTO ministers in Sydney, Australia in November 2002. He subsequently attended the informal WTO ministerial meetings held in Tokyo (Japan), Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt) and Montreal (Cananda). Since assuming the position of Minister for Trade, Mr Vaile has chaired the Cairns Group of Fair Agricultural Trading Nations, including chairing the annual Cairns Group ministerial meetings.
Mr Vaile’s bilateral achievements as Minister for Trade include negotiating and signing the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement in February 2003, the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement in May 2004 and the Thai-Australia Free Trade Agreement in Canberra in July 2004.
Before entering Parliament in 1993, Mr Vaile, with his wife Wendy owned and operated a real estate and stock and station business n the electorate of Lyne on the mid north coast of NSW.